Ranking Michael Jordan’s 6 NBA Finals Appearances With the Chicago Bulls

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Michael Jordan during the 1997 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz

After being taken with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, it didn’t take long for Michael Jordan to establish himself as one of the best players in the NBA.

He won Rookie of the Year in a walk, averaging 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.4 steals, and just two seasons later, he won the first of 10 scoring titles. In 1987-88, Jordan won the first of five NBA MVP trophies while also winning Defensive Player of the Year, cementing himself as the league’s best player.

But despite his individual accomplishments, Jordan couldn’t get the Bulls out of the Eastern Conference. In his first few seasons, he couldn’t get past Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. As the 80s came to a close, it was the Detroit Pistons that gave him trouble. But in 1991, MJ & Co. finally got over the hump, famously sweeping the “Bad Boys” in the Eastern Conference Finals to get the Bulls to their first-ever NBA Finals.

As the 90s went on, the Bulls were a constant fixture in the title series, making six appearances in eight years. And had Jordan not left the NBA for a year and a half following the tragic death of his father, he and his running mates could have certainly gone eight for eight. But we’ll never know that.

What we do know is that once Michael Jordan got to the NBA Finals, he wasn’t going to let the Bulls lose, as evidenced by the fact that he went 6-0 in the title series and won NBA Finals MVP all six times. But which series was his absolute best? Let’s take a look, shall we?

6. 1996 vs. Seattle

After winning a then-record 72 games during the 1995-96 regular season, the postseason was essentially a formality as no team posed a legitimate threat to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls that year.

They lost just one game on the Eastern Conference side of the postseason bracket, a second-round defeat at the hands of the Knicks, and while the Bulls lost twice in the 1996 NBA Finals, the Seattle Supersonics never had a real shot of winning that series — despite what Gary Payton thinks.

Statistically speaking, this was Jordan’s worst Finals performance. And it just goes to show his greatness as it was still magnificent. In the 4-2 series win, His Airness averaged 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals.

5. 1998 vs. Utah

It almost seems criminal to rank Michael Jordan’s last NBA Finals appearance this low, especially seeing as how he essentially had to win that last game all by himself with the injury to Scottie Pippen. But the others were just so strong that we really didn’t have a choice.

Facing a fantastic Utah Jazz squad for the second straight year, Jordan averaged 33.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals as the Bulls took the series in six. MJ certainly saved his best performance for last as he put up 45 of Chicago’s 87 points in the clincher, capping it off with the game-winning bucket with 5.2 seconds remaining. One could easily argue it’s the most iconic image in NBA Finals history.

4. 1997 vs. Utah

The highlight of the Chicago Bulls’ 1997 NBA Finals matchup with the Utah Jazz, of course, was Michael Jordan’s famous “Flu Game” in the fifth game of the series, which we all know now should be called the “Poisoned Pizza Game.” But that just doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, does it?

But Jordan’s 38-point performance that famous night certainly wasn’t his only great outing. In the six-game series victory, MJ averaged 32.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.2 steals.

3. 1992 vs. Portland

While I’ve got Michael Jordan’s overall performance in the 1992 NBA Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers in the No. 3 spot, I firmly believe his best single-game performance took place in this series.

Coming into the ’92 Finals, there was some chatter that Blazers guard Clyde Drexler may be on the same level as Jordan. Naturally, as he does, MJ took that personally and made it a point to prove otherwise. And he didn’t wait long to make said point, scoring 35 points in the first half of Game 1. After making just 27 three-pointers during the regular season, he bucketed six in the first 24 minutes, the last giving us the famous shrug.

The Bulls took the series in six as Jordan shot 52.6% from the floor and averaged 35.8 points, 6.5 assists, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals per game.

2. 1993 vs. Phoenix

Attempting to become just the third NBA franchise to pull off a three-peat and the first since the Boston Celtics in the 1960s, the Chicago Bulls faced a tough test in the 1993 NBA Finals in the Phoenix Suns.

Charles Barkley was named 1993 NBA MVP that season and had a fine showing in what turned out to be his only appearance in the title series, averaging 27.3 points, 13.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.2 steals.

But Michael Jordan was out to prove he was still the best player in the game and did just that, averaging a ridiculous 41.0 points, including a 55-point outing in Game 4. In becoming the first to ever win three consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards, MJ also added 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and 1.7 steals as the Bulls took the series in six.

1. 1991 vs. Los Angeles

While the ’93 Finals may have been Michael Jordan’s highest-scoring series of the six, his most well-rounded series was his first trip to the NBA Finals in 1991, where he squared off with five-time champion Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.

While the Lakers took Game 1, the Bulls cruised from there and took the series in five. And Jordan was simply magnificent en route to his first title, shooting 55.8% from the floor while averaging 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds, 2.8 steals, and 1.4 blocks. It doesn’t get much better than that.